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Control magazine mourns the passing of long-time editor Paul Studebaker

Sept. 2, 2021

Those of you who’ve been part of the Control community for more than a couple of years will remember Paul Studebaker. After more than 25 years on the editorial team of Control and other Putman Media titles, and an all-too-short retirement spent battling resurgent prostate cancer, he passed on Aug. 14, 2021—survived by his lovely wife of 36 years, Bettyann, and grown sons Benjamin and Adam.

I’ll very much miss his friendship, his wry wit and his ability to coalesce the essential elements of a story into the concise, meaningful communications that engineers and other busy professionals expect and deserve in the magazines and media brands they rely on to keep abreast of the latest developments in their field. Engineering and communications (the human kind, not digital protocols) aren’t always easy bedfellows, but Paul successfully made the transition and took to heart our collective mission of helping those in industry run safer, more reliable, and more sustainable operations in the support of society’s needs.

He was a renaissance man, his elder son Benjamin noted in a moving eulogy. “Most engineers can’t write,” he said, “but given enough time, my Dad could figure anything out.”

Paul went on to win numerous awards for his articles and editorials from the American Society of Business Press Editors and was on the team that won a Jesse H. Neal award for editorial excellence, the most prestigious award given in the field.

“He understood the importance that process knowledge played in doing better process control,” noted Greg McMillan, Control columnist. “He encouraged the use of humor in my writing—often to open minds to new insights and perceptions, particularly of how things can go wrong. I am grateful for my years with Paul, and dearly miss his presence.“ Added John Rezabek, another Control columnist, “His commentary was always timely and on point, and I appreciated his persistence in keeping Control’s content relevant.”

And while Paul effectively mastered the essential aspects of process automation and instrumentation, his professional and personal interests were most perfectly aligned when he served as editor-in-chief of our sister title Plant Services, which is all about industrial maintenance and reliability. You see, if there’s one common theme to how Paul spent his time away from the office, it was in fixing things. “He had so much to live for and so much in his life,” said the rabbi who presided over his memorial service. “As we celebrate his life, we also grieve for those years that we hoped to celebrate special occasions together, having him fix something that was broken.” You get the idea.

In fact, his passion for machines—especially cars and motorcycles—and how they work presaged his pursuit of a formal engineering education. Early years as his father's garage assistant saw him paid at age 13 to replace his grade-school teacher's brakes, followed by stints at a range of vehicle repair shops. But the money wasn't all that great, so he eventually succumbed to pursuing a "ticket to life," as his mother called it: a college degree. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign he earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in metallurgical engineering, and more importantly met his future bride Bettyann.

I know Paul was proud of the work that he did at Putman Media and that he found his maintenance hobbies satisfying as well. But his sons Benjamin and Adam were his pride and joy, his real legacy. "He was my bedrock foundation that I could always rely on," said Adam when it was his turn at the podium. "And on top of that foundation I was able to build everything that I am today. He taught me to make my own decisions, 'to ride my own ride.'"

"Every kid comes into the world thinking his dad is a genius, but most have their fantasies spoiled," Benjamin added. "Whenever I needed my dad, I’d find him in the garage or in his favorite chair in the sunroom doing a crossword puzzle. I’d tell him what was wrong and he’d fix it. It didn’t matter what it was—he was a true renaissance man."

May his memory be a blessing to us all.

About the author: Keith Larson
About the Author

Keith Larson | Group Publisher

Keith Larson is group publisher responsible for Endeavor Business Media's Industrial Processing group, including Automation World, Chemical Processing, Control, Control Design, Food Processing, Pharma Manufacturing, Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing, Processing and The Journal.

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